Amazon’s Echo Show line has been around for four years, but to date screen sizes have ranged from Five to 10 incheswhich makes it ideal as a multi-purpose bedside alarm or as a companion in the kitchen. The 15 inch Echo show 15, available now, is by far the largest size Amazon has tried, and it’s also the first Echo Show to mount on your wall. Because of this, the company anticipates that some people will be using it not only as a digital photo frame but also as a family bulletin board. If that’s exactly what you want a smart display to be, the Echo Show 15 might be a niche, but very apt. Somehow, however, we suspect that most people aren’t.
Gallery: Amazon Echo Show 15 review | 25 photos
Gallery: Amazon Echo Show 15 review | 25 photos
Framed like a painting
The Echo Show 15 looks like it belongs in a gallery. Its 15.6-inch screen is surrounded by a 0.7-inch white frame (similar to the mat around a painting) that is itself housed in a sleek black metal case. It’s also pretty slim at only 1.4 inches thick. If you tell me this is a picture frame, I would probably believe you from afar. The only tell-tale clue is the camera in the upper left corner. You can hide it with a physical trigger by using a switch at the top of the frame, where you’ll also find volume controls and a microphone mute button.
- Nice picture frame design
- Big and bright screen
- Widgets are useful
- Average camera and audio quality
- Desktop stand sold separately
- Limited widget library
Since the Show 15 was designed to be hung on a wall, it comes with a mounting bracket along with the necessary hardware. (You’ll need to bring your own electric drill, of course.) However, Amazon only supplies a 1.5 m power cord, so you should mount the device relatively close to an electrical outlet. Alternatively, you can run the cable through the wall like you would with a television, but this is a more complicated setup.
You can mount the Show 15 horizontally or vertically, but you cannot rotate it while it is still hanging on the wall. You’ll need to remove it, flip the bracket, and then reattach the display. The same goes for a desktop stand; You need to choose your preferred orientation before placing the show 15 on it.
I didn’t want to drill into my walls (especially not to house a device I just borrowed for this story) so I went for the Sanus Tilt Stand that Amazon sent me for review. It’s quite heavy and bulky and takes up a lot of space on my kitchen counter. As the name suggests, the stand allows you to tilt the show up to 30 degrees for a better viewing angle. It’s a decent alternative to hanging on the wall, but if I wanted an Alexa-powered desktop display I’d probably choose one of the other Echo shows as they are smaller.
Still, the 15.6-inch screen here is the best of all Echo shows with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. The display is so bright and sharp that I can see it clearly in the whole room (about 2.50 m away). When it shows photos and pictures in full screen mode, the frame really looks like a work of art. It reminds me of the Lenovo Smart Frame we saw at CES 2020 and even Samsung’s The Frame TV, only they’re both much bigger – the Lenovo Smart Frame has a 21.5-inch display, while the Frame TV range from 32 to 32 inches reaches 85 inches. Also, the Smart Frame only showed photos, while The Frame TV is a TV showing art that lacks Amazon’s smart display capabilities.
Speaking of which, one of the main advantages of the big screen is Amazon’s newest Echo Show feature: widgets. In addition to the standard rotating content of the home screen such as headlines and weather updates, part of the display can now be customized with tiles. Options include a calendar, shopping list, sticky notes, to-do lists, weather forecast, maps, and an Amazon parcel delivery tracker. There is also a “What to Eat” widget that includes recipe recommendations, restaurant delivery options, and Blue Apron meal suggestions.
This widgets feature will eventually be introduced for all Echo Shows, but only the Echo Show 15 will have it permanently on the home screen. You can add as many widgets as you want, with the Echo Show 15 only showing up to six at a time, depending on the tile size. It also pushes the ones you use the most, and you can rearrange them however you want.
I found the widgets helpful to see all of my information at a glance. I’ve made extensive use of the Smart Home Favorites widget, which allows me to view my surveillance camera feeds and control my smart lights with a single tap. I also liked the picture-in-picture live camera view that allowed me to see who was at the front door while watching a video.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many third-party widgets out there at the moment – only 14. The company has said it created an API for developers to create their own widgets, but it’s unclear if more will follow soon. For example, I would like to see a Spotify widget in addition to the one for Amazon Music. Browser shortcuts for easier access to my favorite websites would also be helpful.
Visual ID face recognition
Another feature that debuts on the Echo Show 15 is Visual ID, which is similar to Face Match on Google’s Nest Hub Max. It is a face recognition function that shows you information and widgets tailored to your needs, such as: B. Your daily appointments or your to-do list. Whenever I came into view, the Echo Show would give 15 greetings like “Good morning, Nicole”. It’s smart enough to differentiate me from my husband, whom it also recognized well. You can also send messages using Visual ID; When my husband told Alexa to “leave a note for Nicole that says, ‘I love you’”, I later saw her appear on the screen.
This feature will not be available only for Echo Show 15 for long; Amazon says the second generation Echo Show 8 and third generation Echo Show 10 will also receive a Visual ID via a future update. In terms of privacy, the company says that data for both Visual ID and Voice ID (which is already present on all other Echo devices) will be stored on the device without going to the cloud. However, if you still feel uncomfortable, you can just turn both features off completely. Additionally, you can view your voice recordings in the Alexa app and delete them if that makes you feel better.
Disappointing camera quality
Many of the other features of the Echo Show 15 are in line with what Amazon has for the rest of its smart display line of products, including the ability to set timers, stream music, control Alexa-compatible smart home devices, and make video calls. Plus, it has plenty of streaming video options including Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and even less obvious services like TikTok and Sling TV. However, YouTube is only accessible through the browser, and Show 15 doesn’t support Disney + or HBO Max (which are offered by Google’s Nest Hub).
Although Amazon supports video calling over Skype, the Alexa app, or anyone with an Echo device (zoom support coming in 2022), the Echo Show 15 inexplicably uses a sub-par camera that isn’t as sharp as the 13-megapixel sensors on the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10. Also, Show 15 doesn’t have Amazon’s auto-framing feature, which keeps you centered in the scene.
Since the Echo Show 15 is so slim, I’m not surprised that the audio quality is so mediocre. It was fine for the occasional chill playlist, but there’s hardly any bass so I definitely wouldn’t use that for entertaining guests.
There’s really nothing quite like it when it comes to the size of the Echo Show 15. The closest thing is Facebook’s Portal +, which also measures 15.6 inches. However, the Portal + cannot be mounted on a wall and many apps and functions of the Echo Show are missing. It also costs $ 50 more. However, the Portal + has a nicer camera with great video chat capabilities, making it better for making calls.
The Echo Show 15’s closest competitors are its own siblings, the Echo Show 8 and Show 10. They all have the same characteristics, except again that they are wall-mounted. And yes, the larger display is better suited for widgets on the home screen. That’s the only real benefit though, as Visual ID and Widgets will be coming to the smaller Echo Shows as well. Show 8 and Show 10 also offer significantly better camera and audio quality. Sure, you have to swipe to see the widgets, but that’s not a big deal. Show 8 is also cheaper at $ 130 (Show 10 is closer at $ 250).
The main advantage of the Echo Show 15 is that it can be wall mounted, and frankly, that’s the only reason to get it. Yes, the screen is nice and makes for a pretty digital photo frame, but the rest of its features are no better than the smaller Echo Shows. In addition, the camera is somehow even worse than the smaller Echo Show devices. If you’re not really interested in the idea of a smart display on the wall, you’re better off with one of Amazon’s other Echo shows.
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